Howd’y USA

Reuters reported that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing for principal-level meetings on trade over February 14-15 according to a White House statement. US sharemarkets ended mixed on Friday. Shares of Coty, Mattel and Motorola lifted after earnings results. Shares in videogame publisher Electronic Arts rose 16.05% after it said that its game Apex Legends had attracted 10 million players in three days. At the close the Dow Jones index was down by 63 points or 0.3%. But the S&P500 index was up by 0.1%. And the Nasdaq index was higher by 10 points or 0.1%. Over the week the Dow rose by 0.2% with the S&P 500 up by 0.1% and the Nasdaq gained 0.5%. US treasuries were firmer on Friday (yields lower). US 2-year yields fell by 2 points to 2.47% and US 10-year yields fell 3 points to 2.63%. Over the week US 2-year yields fell by 4 points and US 10- year yields fell by 5 points. Major currencies were mixed against the US dollar in US and European trade compared with the Asia close. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.1350 to US$1.1320 and was near US$1.1325 in late US trade. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US70.70 cents to highs near US71.00 cents and was near US70.90 cents in late US trade. And the Japanese yen lifted from 109.89 yen per US dollar to JPY109.66 and was near JPY109.72 in late US trade.

Global oil prices rose modestly on Friday. Investors were reluctant to take fresh positions ahead of US-China trade talks. The number of oil rigs in operation in the US rose by 7 to 854 in the past week. Reuters reported that US lawmakers advanced a bill known as the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, in the House of Representatives. The bill could target OPEC producers for anti-trust behaviour. Brent crude rose by US39 cents or 0.6% to US$62.02 a barrel and the US Nymex price rose by US8 cents or 0.2% to US$52.72 a barrel. Over the week Brent fell by 1.2% and Nymex fell by 4.6%.

Bonjour, Europe

European sharemarkets fell on Friday. The pan-European STOXX600 index fell by 0.6% on Friday and fell 0.4% for the week - the first weekly decline in five weeks. The autos sector lost 2.2%. But shares in cosmetics maker L'Oreal rose 1.3% and shares in luxury handbag maker Hermes rose 1.5% on reporting better than feared demand from China. The German Dax index fell by 1.1% while the UK FTSE lost 0.3%. In London trade, shares of both Rio Tinto and BHP ended flat over the session.

Top of the morning, London

Base metal prices were mixed on the London Metal Exchange on Friday. Tin and lead rose by up to 0.5% while other metals fell by up to 3.2% with nickel down the most and other metals fell by 0.6-0.8%. Over the week zinc fell 3.1% and lead fell 2.5% but copper rose by 1.2% with tin up 0.5%. The gold futures price rose by US$4.30 an ounce or 0.3% to $1,318.50 an ounce. The spot gold price was near US$1,314 an ounce in late US trade. Over the week gold fell by US$3.60 or 0.3%. Iron ore rose by US$3.70 or 4.1% to US$94.20 a tonne. Over the week iron ore rose by US$7.20 or 8.3%.